Demons in high places
The Reuben Abati’s theory of demons in high places has attracted critical responses from equally high places. Scholars, politicians and other informed commentators have offered complementary as well as opposing perspectives to what Dr. Abati, a theatre arts scholar, has pushed out. Chief Femi Fani-Kayode actually strengthened the rather weak premise of Abati with more compelling details of demonic operations in official abodes since Nigeria’s independence 56 years ago. He sampled many leaders at the national and regional levels and said only General Abdulsalami Abubakar, had managed to come out clean of the demonic entanglement.
But last Thursday in the Punch Newspaper, Abimbola Adelakun thought differently. She called all that frightening stuff by Abati “illogical postulations”, “entirely nonsensical”, “disappointing” and a lot more uncomplimentary descriptions. In fact, apart, from Fani-Kayode, who most times subordinates the human will to the unseen power in his writings, others including Steve Osuji in the Nation Newspaper of last Friday, who had to talk on the Abati thesis felt he, Abati, took the role of the gods in the affairs of Nigerians a little too far.
I shall take a middle ground and say Abati was only being African or more precisely, Nigerian and he should be forgiven or at least the rest of should make effort to understand him. The truth is, the black man is known to so readily abdicate in the existentialist warfare and offload every responsibility of failure or success on an unseen power. It is a way of saying our lives have been ordered well ahead of us and no serious effort is required on our part to move through cradle to grave. The closest to this being institutionalized in the post-modern world is the Hindu caste system, which forbids unbridled earthly ambition and vertical movements within the four castes (Priest, Warrior, Merchant and Worker) except by reincarnation. It means an individual must die and be born again (not as in Christendom) to ascend from a lower to a higher caste.
This was not exactly the suggestion of Abati in his spiritual thesis though. If I am allowed to paraphrase, the man, as in Greek and Roman mythologies, is asking for a more direct role of the gods in the affairs of Nigerians. People are angry at him because the Greek and Roman civilizations, which he might have alluded to were defined more by brutal beliefs (paganism) than scholarship. Both civilizations ended millenniums ago more as a result of their refusal to be dynamic.
Or maybe, instead of crowding the spiritual realm with gods we think are contesting the physical space with us as Abati has proposed, we should yield to the Almighty God. But we should also agree that the appreciation of God among humans is measured by the capacity of the devil and his agents. I mean, we cannot see God until the demons comes everywhere around us.
And the devil has been everywhere on earth since he lost his place in heaven. The Holy Spirit is also here on earth. In other words, the earth as it is today and as it has always been, operates the laws of God and the laws of devil. But since the devil is a more aggressive marketer, more people, including the occupants of Aso Rock Villa and other high places readily subscribe to his code. The Small Still Voice of the Holy Spirit is hardly heard amid the demonic staccato in high places. This was the point which Abati presented so badly.
There is even another way of looking at the whole thing. It is God not Devil that created the world. After creation, God said everything was good. That goodness still remains in spite of the devil and every subsequent attempt by man, including the eating of the Forbidden fruit by Adam and Eve to detract from the goodness of what God has made has attracted consequences. I want Abati to understand that the rule has not changed and all persons that have tried or are trying to mess up the goodness of God’s work shall be visited with consequences. He may choose to call the reprisals demonic attacks.
God created Nigerians to enjoy life and not to live under the excruciating conditions that their leaders have subjected them. No Nigerian was created to be kidnapped, live without healthcare, electricity, good roads and even good food as a result of bad leadership. People, including do not understand how God works. They think they can outsmart God. Nobody contravenes the laws of God and goes scot-free. Even with repentance, there is atonement or purgation in strict theology. King David with all his prayers and praises for God also suffered the consequences of his bad action, how much less a Nigerian leader. Every Nigerian leader that sinneth against Nigerians shall come under a demonic attack in Jesus Name. Amen!
It is even good that Abati opened up on this troubling trend. It offers an opportunity for the current occupants of high places in Nigeria to learn and adjust fast to avoid demonic visitations. Now, I can guess why God had had to haul down Lucifer and a host of demons to earth instead of fixing them up in heaven, which He could have easily done when they staged a rebellion. It is to safeguard His good work on earth. The demons are regulators and if they had not intervened in the Jonathan Presidency for instance according to Abati, we would have perhaps had a bigger mess in our hands. I am trying to imagine the scale of wickedness in leadership in Nigeria if there are no demons to attack and frighten evil leaders from doing more evil.
Reaction will always equal action in the dynamics of life. A man will reap demons if he sows demons. There was a sub-theme of fear in Abati’s theory of demons. He said in trying to avoid demons, Nigerian leaders have become paranoid. They recline into their geo-ethnic comfort zones in search of trusted aides because they see others as potential agents of demons.
But following the same principle of cause and effect or action and reaction, nothing is haphazard. Also, nothing can be enforced in the middle of the road. Every manifestation is a product of an initial action. When leaders sow greed and nepotism, they deny so many others of their legitimate share in the natural economy. Also, when leaders rule oppressively and selfishly, they create a pressure zone that could grow to consume them. In all, wise leaders fear the voiceless and the weak who, lacking the capacity to challenge the social order within the operating rules, will petition God regarding their situation and God will listen.
Perhaps, what Abati calls demonic attack is when God hears and answers the petitions of His people. Leaders should act love and then wait to reap love and loyalty from the followership. When they sow wind they reap whirlwind. Love embodies God and no demon on earth, beneath or above earth is strong enough to penetrate the defences of love to wreck havoc on God’s people. A lot of folks avoid going back to their villages because of ‘demons’. Others are afraid of being physically attacked. But only the guilty shall have reasons to be afraid. Those who understand the purpose of God also understand that it is hypocrisy to seek God outside humanity.
Every worker of humanity is also a worker of God because benefits mankind and glorifies God. No such worker can be destroyed by demons or men. Let our leaders work for humanity and God’s Holy Spirit shall take care of the tormenting demons around them. I laugh when wicked leaders after working against humanity and God go to the Church with pomp and pageantry to do thanksgiving. That is thanksgiving to demons not God. The demons shall receive all gifts with thanks and fortify for more vicious attacks on the givers.
Going forward, Abati, should discard his theory of demons that cause leadership failure in Nigeria and propound another based on agape love that promotes success in every facet of life including leadership.